Men being treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer are not always getting bone-strengthening drugs they may need according to a Canadian study reported in a research letter in JAMA. A potentially serious side effect of the androgen-deprivation therapy often prescribed to prostate cancer patients is an increased risk of bone loss and fracture. Several consensus guidelines recommend bisphosphonate therapy for men receiving hormones but the new study found that the bone strengthening treatment was underused even in men with osteoporosis.
Ladies, share this blog with the men in your life. Long-term adminstration of the dietary supplement saw palmetto, even at three times the usual dose, did not reduce symptoms of prostate enlargement significantly better than placebo in a large group of middle-aged men, according to the most rigorous study of the popular herb.
"The bottom line is don't waste your money on saw palmetto supplements for an enlarged prostate," said senior study author Kevin McVary, M.D., a professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It doesn't work any better than a placebo.” McVary suggested men with enlarged prostate talk to their doctors about medications that shrink or relax the prostate or laser surgery, the most common surgical approach.
The study from researchers at 14 institutions across the United States and Canada appears in the Sept. 28 Journal of the American Medical Association. The lead author is Michael Barry, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly referred to as an enlarged prostate, affects around half of men at age 50 and three-quarters by age 80. The condition can be mild, but for many men symptoms such as frequent urination – including the need to visit the bathroom several times at night –- difficulty urinating and weak or intermittent urinary flow interfere with their quality of life. Several conventional medications are available to treat BPH, but their side effects can be unpleasant.
Saw palmetto extract is a common alternative treatment for BPH. Some early studies indicated that saw palmetto could reduce symptoms of BPH, but recent, more rigorous trials had less promising results. The largest previous trial, enrolling 225 men over age 50, found that a standard dose of 160 milligrams twice a day for one year was no better than placebo at relieving symptoms. The current study was designed to see whether longer treatment with higher doses would give better results.
Conducted at 11 North American hospitals, the current trial enrolled men over 45 with moderate symptoms of BPH. Participants took daily doses of identical gelcaps that contained either saw palmetto extract or a placebo. The dosage was doubled 28 weeks into the study and then tripled at 48 weeks. Those receiving saw palmetto started at a standard daily dose of 320 milligrams, increased to 640 and ended at 960. Of the more than 300 participants who completed the study, all reached the triple dose with no significant side effects. At the end of the 72-week study period, participants receiving saw palmetto showed less improvement in a standard index of BPH symptoms than did those taking the placebo.
Support for the study – which was conducted by the Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Urologic Symptoms Study Group – included grants from the National Institutes of Health.
By Marla Paul is the health sciences editor at Northwestern.
As an Institute that promotes sex and gender research, here is another blog of particular interest to the male side of the equation!
Experimental soy-based drug shows benefits in men with localized prostate cancer
CHICAGO --- Northwestern Medicine researchers at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University have found that a new, nontoxic drug made from a chemical in soy could prevent the movement of cancer cells from the prostate to the rest of the body.
Genistein, a natural chemical found in soy, is being used in the lab of Raymond Bergan, M.D., the director of experimental therapeutics at the Lurie Cancer Center, to inhibit prostate cancer cells from becoming metastatic and spreading to other parts of the body. So far the cancer therapy drug has worked in preclinical animal studies and now shows benefits in humans with prostate cancer.
A recent phase II randomized study of 38 men with localized prostate cancer found that genistein, when given once a day as a pill, one month prior to surgery, had beneficial effects on prostate cancer cells.
Researchers examined the cancer cells from the subjects’ prostates after surgery and found that genistein increased the expression of genes that suppress the invasion of cancer cells and decreased the expression of genes that enhance invasion.
“The first step is to see if the drug has the effect that you want on the cells and the prostate, and the answer is ‘yes, it does,’” said Bergan, a professor of hematology and oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The next step is to conduct another phase II study to see if the drug can stop the cancer cells from moving out of the prostate and into the rest of the body, Bergan said. If confirmed, Bergan said this could be the first therapy for any cancer that is non-toxic and targets and inhibits cancer cell movement.
“All therapies designed to stop cancer cell movement that have been tested to date in humans have basically failed have because they have been ineffective or toxic,” Bergan said. “If this drug can effectively stop prostate cancer from moving in the body, theoretically, a similar therapy could have the same effect on the cells of other cancers.”
Written by Erin White